Champagne Delamotte’s extraordinary yet little-known history is a tale of twists and turns, spanning centuries.
Maison Delamotte was founded in 1760 by François Delamotte. Influenced no doubt by his father-in-law, Antoine Bourgongne, a vine-grower in Aÿ who produced champagne under his own name, François decided to do the same. In 1760 established a House of Vins de Champagne (Wines of Champagne), in a building on the corner of rue Cérès and rue Marmousets, where he lived. The trade name Delamotte Père & Fils was adopted in 1786, when François’ elder son Alexandre joined forces with his father to help develop the now burgeoning family business. François also had another son, Nicolas Louis Delamotte, born in 1767 who was successful in business and influential in the wider trade, Nicolas Louis rose to become President of the Chamber of Commerce in Reims.
Nicolas Louis’ friendship with a certain Jean-Baptiste Lanson was to prove significant to the history and evolution of Champagne Delamotte. Jean-Baptiste Lanson was born in 1777. Highly respected and sought-after in business and society alike, he held key positions on a number of trade committees and councils and was later to serve as Deputy Mayor of Reims, earning himself the title of Chevalier of the Legion of Honour for his contribution to public service. In 1828, Nicolas Louis offered his friend a minority partnership in the family business, and Jean-Baptiste accepted. After Nicolas Louis died in 1837, his widow Marie-Pierrette and Jean-Baptiste co-managed the company, trading under the name Veuve Delamotte-Barrachin.
Jean-Baptiste re-establishing the business entirely, he abandoned the Delamotte name in favour of Lanson Père & Fils. However, a woman will arrive on the scene to save the day! Delamotte’s saviour was Marie-Louise de Nonancourt, whose lineage and decisions were to prove instrumental for the future.
Today, one man carries that mantle, and this is Didier Depond, the dynamic Président of Champagne Delamotte and Champagne Salon. Having completed commercial studies, in 1986 he joined Laurent-Perrier in a sales role, moving through the ranks to become Head of Marketing in 1994. Just three years later in 1997 he was made Président of both Champagne Delamotte and Champagne Salon. A close mentee of Bernard de Nonancourt for many years, Didier cites the enormous influence of le grand BN (‘the great BN’) on his career. Like him, one of the champagne region’s most passionate advocates, hard-working and high-achieving, Didier continues to forge the reputation and image of Champagne Salon and Champagne Delamotte worldwide.
The blend combines fruit from Delamotte’s precious vineyards in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, with those from a handful of small vignerons across the Côte, suppliers to Delamotte for many years.
While the proportions used of each grand cru vary subtly from vintage to vintage – and the exact recipe is known only to Delamotte’s technical director and Didier Depond himself - the stylistic objective remains the same: to capture the essence of the Côte des Blancs in all its depth and lightness, richness and grace. Each grand cru leaves its imprint on this cuvée that transcends the sum of its parts.
Unsurprisingly, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger takes centre-stage, with its incisive minerals, lissom purity and fine white line of salt. Elegant, upright Avize refines the warm, generous fruit of Oger, while Cramant leaves its diaphanous, chiffon trail of smoke and silk. Chouilly harmonises and lengthens the blend, while Oiry quietly yields its sensuous curve and delicate, lacy acids.
The grapes from each parcel of vines were pressed gently and slowly in a Willmes press, and only the finest fractions selected. Vinification took place as always at carefully controlled temperatures in stainless steel tanks, followed by full malolactic fermentation. After the prise de mousse, the wines were held sur lattes in Delamotte’s cellars for over six years, to allow the wines to meld and mellow, gaining aromatic and structural complexity from the long, slow refining process of autolysis.
In the run-up to release, the bottles were riddled by hand over several months, culminating in final disgorgement in early Spring 2021. After prolonged lees ageing, dosage was discreet as always – a judicious 6.5g/l for balance and longevity.
Champagne Delamotte comprises grapes harvested from four of the most hallowed villages in the Côte des Blancs : Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Avize, Oger and Cramant, all classified as 100% Grand Cru. This is the heartland of the Côte des Blancs, whose ancient chalky soils allow the chardonnay grape to express its true vivacity and freshness.
The grapes from each separate parcel are pressed carefully and gently in a Willmes press, and only the finest fractions used. Vinification takes place as always at controlled temperatures in stainless steel tanks, and the wines complete malolactic fermentation. Then, quite simply, time.